Plan the Perfect Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

A day trip to Windsor Castle from London is a fun and easy way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city for a few hours.

 

Located just 30 miles from London, Windsor is a cozy community steeped in a rich royal history. Home to the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world, as well as a bevy of unique boutiques and bistros, Windsor is the kind of place where you can while away the hours simply strolling the charming city streets or enjoying high tea in the afternoon.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

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Getting There

Making your way to Windsor Castle from London couldn’t be any easier. Trains run every 30 minutes from Paddington Station, one of the busiest train stations in the city. You’ll find easy-to-use electronic ticket kiosks inside the doors of the station where you can purchase your ticket to Windsor & Eton Central station. If you need assistance, simply locate one of the many staff members, and they’ll happily lend a hand.

Once you’ve purchased your ticket, look for the departures boards to find out when the next train arrives and which platform to catch it on. Some trains leave later but make more stops, so be sure to look for the fastest overall route. After about 30 minutes onboard, you’ll need to transfer trains at Slough station. It’s a very small station with only four platforms, so it’s pretty easy to get around. Upon arrival, check the departures signs to find out when the next Windsor-bound train arrives and which platform it will be on. They run very often, so if you just miss one, don’t fear. Another one will come soon, and the ride from Slough only to Windsor takes only 5 minutes. The entire trip takes about 40 minutes total, including the transfer.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

windsor castle

Pro Tip: If your schedule is flexible, purchase a ticket for off-peak travel. The trains will be less crowded and more affordable. An off-peak return ticket costs only about £12.

Things to Do

With of population of just over 32,000, Windsor has all the charm of a small town, but thanks to its very important royal residents, it’s got no shortage of things to do. Of course, Windsor Castle, best known these days as the site of Prince Harry and Meghan Marke’s nuptials, is the city’s main attraction. As one of the three official homes of the queen, the stately 900-year-old castle is a sight to behold.

windsor castle

When you get off the train, basically all you need to do is walk forward straight out of the station, and you’ll be within steps of the castle gates. Just follow the signs—it’s that easy. Depending on the time of year, the hours of operation change ever so slightly, but you can typically expect to find it open between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the peak season.

windsor castle

Though I’m born and raised in Canada, my grandma was from England, so I’m all about the royals, but I opted not to go inside. By 10 a.m., the line to get in was about a block long, and the cost of admission is hefty at more than £21 per ticket. I settled for a long-distance look from outside the castle walls. If you do intend to go inside, expect to spend between 90 minutes and three hours exploring the castle.

windsor castle

windsor castle

Shop Til You Drop

Aside from the castle, you’ll find plenty of ways to spend your hard-earned cash in Windsor. All around the castle, you’ll find sho-lined streets where you can purchase royal-themed souvenirs or one-of-a-kind gifts. The railway station itself is home to Windsor Royal Shopping. Open seven days a week, the shopping center features 40 brand-name retailers and a solid mix of restaurants and cafes.

windsor castle

windsor castle

Be sure to hit up Peascod Street, which is steps away from the train station and runs south-west from the entrance of Windsor Castle. The pedestrian street boasts a number of unique boutiques and eateries. In addition to cute side streets and alleyways, other nearby shopping streets include High Street and Thames Street.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

windsor castle

windsor castle
windsor castle

windsor castle

Windsor Yards Shopping Centre is located in King Edward Court, just steps away from the central train station. A variety of well-known retailers, such as Zara and Topshop, have set up shop here.

windsor castle
windsor castle
Afternoon Tea

Before heading back to London, enjoy afternoon tea at one of the many local eateries. I highly recommend pampering yourself with a mouthwatering meal at the luxurious Madame Posh on Peascod Street. I just dare you to walk by the window featuring all of the restaurant’s decadent delicacies without stopping to try one. I can’t even tell you how long it took me to get a picture of the window without a hoard of people ogling all of the desserts inside. While the restaurant does offer a delicious afternoon tea, I was in the mood for a savory crepe, or galette. And I simply couldn’t pass up the lemon meringue tarts. I ate outside at one of the faux-fur-lined tables. Both the atmosphere and the food were to die for. It was the perfect way to top off our day trip to Windsor Castle from London.

windsor castle

windsor castle

windsor castle

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

Pro Tip: Plan to spend anywhere from four to eight hours roaming the city’s main attractions and another hour for travel time on your day trip to Windsor Castle from London. We left Paddington Station at around 9:30 a.m. and returned at about 4:30 p.m. 

Windsor is just one of the many great day trips you can take from Paddington Station in London. For this reason, I recommend staying in the vicinity if you’re planning to get outside the city several times during your stay. The Point A Hotel London Paddington is a budget-friendly hotel that’s only a 5-minute walk from the station. Though it has only a two-star rating by hotel standards, most reviewers give it four or five stars on TripAdvisor. The rooms are spacious, clean, and recently renovated. If you like a little more luxury, I highly recommend Hazlitt’s Hotel. Located in Soho, it’s a bit of a trek to Paddington Station, but you’ll love its haunted history and quirky charms.

Where are your favorite places to visit in Windsor? What places have you traveled to from Paddington Station? Let us know in the comments section!

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Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

Afternoon Tea at Covent Garden: A Wanderlust Experience

Covent Garden is the place to be for an affordable afternoon tea in London.

 

There are few things I enjoy more than a traditional afternoon tea. All those pretty sandwiches and dainties are simply delightful. So as soon as I knew I was traveling to London, England, I began researching afternoon teas. And I found the most adorable Alice in Wonderland option at a high-class hotel. It came with a mighty hefty price tag, but I decided to treat myself and reserved a seat. Sadly, 24 hours before I was scheduled to fall down the rabbit hole with Alice, I received an email stating the tea had been canceled. So, I set out in search of an alternative.

As I walked along, I passed the B Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, a vintage, red double-decker bus that takes you past London’s best-known sights as you enjoy your tea. I also took note of the lovely spread Patisserie Valerie advertised in its windows adorned with scrumptious delights. Shop after shop, it seemed there dewas no end to the abundance of afternoon tea options. And while many caught my eye, none were quite right, so I kept walking.

Finally, I came upon one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in London, Covent Garden Market. It is comprised of a delightful mix of unique boutiques, kitschy kiosks, and fabulous foods. And many vendors offer a version of afternoon tea. But one adorable little bakery stood out to me, Sweetheart Cake and Bake Shop.



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Located in a tiny shop tucked into a corner on the lower level of Covent Garden, this adorable little bakery is everything you hope a cupcake shop will be. From pastel-colored accents, dangling chandeliers, and froufrou wall art, I just about melted the minute I set eyes on this place. And for just £18, you can enjoy an afternoon tea that lives up to every expectation you might have. The best part is that no reservations are needed. Simply show up anytime between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. any day of the week, and they’ll be happy to serve you. Though the shop is just wee, there are a handful of seats inside, or you can choose to sit outdoors and enjoy the live entertainment from the Covent Garden buskers.

What to Expect

When you arrive, simply head straight to the counter, and tell the server you would like to have the afternoon tea. The server will ask where you plan to sit, as well as what type of tea you would like. You’ll also get to select a cupcake flavor from their robust selection of about a dozen different types.

A few minutes after you’re comfortably seated, the server will bring your pot of tea. Because this is a not a formal tea and everything is made to order, it will take a bit of time for the chef to prepare your spread. They make each and every sandwich fresh for you. And it’s well worth the wait. About 15 minutes after I was first seated, the server set a proper three-tiered china dainty stand on my table. It was filled with all sorts of delectable delights, and I could barely wait to dig in.

To be honest, there is enough food to share with another person. But I hadn’t eaten a thing all day in anticipation of this moment and was hungry enough to eat a horse. I started with the bottom tier, which contained a traditional cucumber and egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread with the crusts cut off. Next up was a sweet brioche topped with a vegetarian spread. Lastly, there was a savory tart filled with a salmon cream and smoked salmon that was to die for.

Afternoon tea simply wouldn’t be complete without a traditional English scone. And that’s just what was awaiting me on the center tier of the tray. With a side of jam and clotted cream, it was everything I’d hoped it would be. And finally, the top tier with its sweet treats was the pièce de résistance. In addition to the cupcake of my choice—red velvet with cream cheese frosting—there was a tiny fruit tart filled with a creamy custard and three small homemade chocolates. My sweet tooth was completely sated by the time I took my last bite.

Each tier of my afternoon tea tray was a feast for the senses, and I got to listen to a beautiful string quartet play while I ate. It was a wonderful way to spend part of my afternoon. If you are looking for an affordable afternoon tea that you can visit on a whim and serves up scrumptious fare, this is an amazing option. And don’t worry if you can’t eat it all—your server will be more than happy to box it up for you.

Pro tip: Start with the foods that won’t keep as well, such as the clotted cream and salmon tart. That way, you don’t have to worry about any of your leftovers spoiling while you’re wandering about the rest of the market later in the day.

Do you have a favorite place to enjoy afternoon tea in London. Share your ideas with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

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afternoon tea

3 Ways to Travel Europe Cheap

There are so many great ways you can travel Europe cheap.

 

So you want to see as much of Europe as you can, but you have limited time and money. Lucky for you, there are a lot of options for getting around Europe for not a lot of money. Follow these easy tips make the most of your European travel budget.

1. Fly Someplace Central

One of the best things about Europe is its compact size. You can get to so many different places fast. But what’s even better? Europe is known for its budget airlines. On a good day, you can get a flight for just a few dollars. A great way to travel cheap is to fly into a central, or hub, city, and then catch a flight someplace else from there. Look for the cheapest deal. If you have time to see a few places, simply look for cheap flights from one city to the next. Another option is to take a train from the hub city. Europe’s rail system is unparalleled. It’s fast, frugal, and easy. It’s especially great for travel within a single country. You can get from Venice to Rome for just a few dollars. And it’s faster than traveling to the airport and waiting for a flight.

For a recent vacation, I found a super cheap flight deal to London Gatwick. As much as I love London, I’ve been there a lot, so I wanted to spend part of my vacation in another country. I found a flight deal to Algarve, Portugal, where I stayed for five days before returning to London for the rest of my trip.

2. Business Travel Advantage

Do you travel for work? If you ever fly overseas, consider tacking a few vacations days onto the beginning or end of your trip. Your company will pay for you to fly overseas, and from there, the world is your oyster. You’ll need to pay out of pocket for airfares and accommodations in any other places you visit, but usually the most expensive part of a trip to Europe is the flight overseas. The rest is just frosting, and you can always find a good deal on the extras, like hotels and activities.

I used to fly to Frankfurt each year for work. I would fly in a few days early and immediately dash off to a different destination. One year, I got a $30 flight to Athens. Another year, it was Prague. The options are endless.

3. Rent a Boat

A great way to travel Europe cheap is by boat with cheap boat rentals . With so many canals and rivers running throughout Europe, there are quite a few companies that offer affordable boat rentals. For a few hundred dollars a week, you can be the captain of your own adventure. Whether you travel via traditional penichette in France or narrowboat in England, your rental fee covers both your transportation costs and accommodations for your entire vacation. Not to mention, you can moor up just about anyplace you want, giving you the opportunity to check out villages and towns you might not otherwise have known existed. And you can save even more money by cooking your own meals on the boat.

These are just a few great ways to travel Europe cheap. What other ideas do you have? Join the conversation by becoming a member of the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.